Championing Public Health Through Education
Globalization, epidemics, environmental degradation, poverty, etc, are just a few of the factors affecting our public health policies and practices. Today, many well-established universities offer public health programmes, providing broad-based training for young people hoping to become seasoned healthcare professionals. And CUHK is the first and only university in Hong Kong to offer an undergraduate public health programme.
Hong Kong people probably do not need much introduction to the consequences of mysterious diseases spiraling into public health scares. Very often, before scientists get a good grasp of the culprit virus, the infection may have wreaked enough havoc to show how unprepared we are. To make sure people stay vigilant, we should spend more effort on public health education.
The promotion of public health requires diverse skills and coordination, and therefore the curriculum of a public health programme usually encompasses a wide range of disciplines, including biostatistics, environmental health, social and behavioural science, health services, public health policy, management, finance, law, and engineering.
‘We offer learning opportunities to talent who aspire to be public health professionals, so that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to plan strategically for the proper management of health services, the control and prevention of infectious diseases, as well as decide what policies are best to promote healthier lifestyles for future generations,’ Prof. Yeoh Eng-kiong , Director of the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care said.
Kelvin Ho, a Year 4 student, is satisfied with the breadth and depth of the programme.
‘The comprehensiveness of this study offers me a full picture of the role of public health in society. Physiological factors aside, social, environmental, and political issues can lead to the emergence and diffusion of diseases. Public health professionals thus have to come up with creative strategies in tackling public health problems, formulating solutions, and evaluating efficacy of policies and measures,’ Kelvin said.
The formulation of public health policies could be a tedious, controversial and contentious process, sometimes calling for international collaboration. Kelvin was fortunate enough to be able to visit the United Nations headquarters in New York to cover the meetings attended by decision-makers and health professionals hailing from different countries.
‘I really enjoyed attending the meetings and writing up articles relating to international and healthcare issues. My training at CUHK helped me get the most out of my trip to the United Nations.’
The CUHK programme has a good combination of classroom learning and extra-curricular activities.
‘In addition to classroom learning, experiential learning and international exposure also constitute an important component of the programme. Through such experiences, students will have a more thorough and holistic understanding of public health,’ Professor Yeoh said.
For example, students can go on exchange in overseas universities for one semester of year. Summer study tours are also available.
On professional development, students are required to complete 100 hours of practicum and they are assigned mentors who advise them on career planning. The School also appoints cohort coordinators responsible for supporting students’ academic and personal development.
To Kelvin, public health studies has opened him to different fields of knowledge useful for both his professional and personal growth. He called on inquisitive, bright, young minds who aspire to pursue a healthcare career to join this programme.
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018